NASA’S #CURIOSITY ROVER’S FIRST PANORAMIC PHOTO FROM #MARS

The view from Gale Crater, base of Mount Sharp in the distance

A few days ago, the rover raised its mast containing high-definition and navigation cameras, which will provide better views and better quality photos than those we’ve seen thus far. 

While waiting for new photos to be downloaded, scientists stitched together a series of thumbnails to create the above photo.

Over this weekend, the rover’s taking a break of several days to install a software upgrade on its computers, a process similar to the periodic updates we download for our earth-bound computers.  

Detailed photo of NASA’s Curiosity rover

Curiosity’s parked close to the Martian equator in a landscape bearing a striking similarity to California’s Mohave Desert 

“The first impression that you get is how Earth-like this seems looking at that landscape,” says John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology.   

“You would really be forgiven for thinking that NASA was trying to pull a fast one on you and we actually put a rover out in the Mojave Desert and took a picture.”

Grotzinger noted with excitement that in landing, rover’s rocket-powered sky crane had blasted away enough surface dirt to expose bedrock.

“Here we’ve got an exploration hole drilled for us.  We got a freebie right off the bat.”

Because of the complexity and sophistication of rover’s equipment, engineers are taking their time to thoroughly test its various components.  The Martian rover won’t take its first drive or flex its robotic arm for weeks.  

So far, mission manager Mike Watkins of NASA Propulsion laboratory says, Curiosity “continues to behave flawlessly.”

Sources:  NASA website   Huffington Post, August 12, 2012       Sky Valley Chronicle, August 12, 2012    Fox News, August 9, 2012      Photos credit NASA/JPL-Caltech, Pasadena

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